Will fine tune adjustments with protractor help with "brightness?"

Hello everyone-

I've had my TT setup now for 2 months. System looks like this:

Piega C10 Ltd speakers
McIntosh 402 amp
Technics SL1200GR TT
Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE II phono pre
MoFi Master tracker cart

My ears may be deceiving me, but I swear my vinyl cuts sound slightly brighter at the beginning of the album and soften a little as we near the middle. I set the cartridge by using the little white piece provided by Technics and it sounds great. I've been told by reliable sources that a good protractor, maybe even  Feickert Universal Protractor can help me get even more out of my carts. 

Would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this. Thanks! Brent

It's now set somewhere close to Stevenson, somewhere close because Japanese are clueless when it comes to alignment. Get a proper protractor and try Lofgren A or B.
I really doubt you can get more out of your cart with different alignment, the sound signature will not change, you'd better get a decent cartridge instead. 
MOFI Master Tracker is a fantastic MM cartridge built by Audio Technica. It's essentially a VM760SLC in a different aluminum body. 
 Because the character of the sound changes as the cartridge moves from outer to inner grooves, it is reasonable to think that his issue might be ameliorated if he uses a different alignment from that recommended by the factory. However, I also do think it’s reasonable to expect better sound from a better cartridge. An alignment  protractor like the Feickert which offers several options might help matters in this case. Don’t use the Stevenson option.
Even with Technics own gauge and Technics own alignment (which is close to Stevenson) there is absolutely no problem with 10-15 different cartridges i have tried, none of them is changing sound from beggining to the end of the record like described by Brent. Maybe his ears are special :)  

The alignment will do very little with the cartridge signature sound. If it's bright for you then it's the cartridge, you could use alternative loading of your cartridge, maybe lower than 47k Ohm in this case. 
Try lowering the VTA. Sometimes that will tame the brightness on certain cartridges!
Dear @knollbrent: Yes, you need a good protractor like the one you name it.

The main reason for that is not onlt to have an accurate alignment but to stay away from Stevenson A alignment type that's what you have now. I totally agree with @lewm  and @invictus005 in that regards.

After you did it and listening to it maybe could be a good move to use a different headshell than the stock one.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
brightness and MM cartridges can be a function of the capacitance in the phono cables from turntable to preamp, vertical tracking angle, vertical tracking force and the cartridge characteristics and break-in.  it can also be affected by the alignment.  
you have the mofi ultratracker which is made by Audio Technica and has a microline stylus.  
AT MM carts can be bright sounding.  As long as it isn't distorted, it could be a characteristic of the cartridge.  
They are also sensitive to VTA.  If your VTA is "level" you can try lowering the arm a mm or two in half mm increments and listen closely.  
misalignment usually causes distortion, not necessarily brightness.  the technics gauge cause a slightly distorted sound for me- the mint tractor alignment eliminated the distortion.  you can estimate the mint alignment by pushing the stylus out from the overhang by about 2mm or so but still centered.  
also make sure your phono cables are as short and low capacitance as possible.  I use the low capacitance ART cables sold by KAB , 0.5 meter and never had a brightness issue with MM carts including the ortofon 2M black.  
lastly brightness can be a function of break-in hours on the suspension and stylus.  After ~ 200 hours or so the suspension weakens slightly allowing better bass and the stylus round off a little and sound smoother.  
good luck!  
One thing I learned as a physician, even though I spent most of my professional life doing research, is to listen carefully to the patient's description of his illness.  In this case, the OP is telling us that the character of the sound changes from bright to less bright, over the course of playing a single LP, from outer grooves to inner grooves.  To me, that does not sound like a problem that is primary to the cartridge. Albeit, some other cartridge might be more or less prone to produce the same phenomenon in the OP's current set-up. But first, I would look at alignment.
Years ago, I had a similar problem, only in reverse. That is, the high frequencies sounded more natural at the beginning of the album, and got a bit brighter as it approached the end of the lp. I too, am suspecting this might be coming from the cartridge itself. Not sure though. Like some other posters said, try lowering the tonearm in small increments, changing the VTA, and see what happens.
Excellent advice everyone. It's a possibility my ears do deceive me :)  I'm going to reset the cart at some time for another listen. I appreciate everyone's input as I'm only 3 months into my vinyl setup, so things are very new to me. The good thing is, I'm enjoying the sound a lot and enjoying putting together a nice collection of vinyl. 

@avanti1960 thanks for chiming in. I appreciate your input. I'm still considering the mint tractor although it would be nice to have a protractor that's more universal? 
My feeling that you’re looking for problem where should be no problem.

You’re spot on with Technics overhang gauge that comes with your turntable and if you stylus is under the mark on that white plastic Technics Overhang Gauge then the alignment is correct. You have the instruction manual how to set-up this tonearm.

Technics presentation on almost every high-end show was made with $5000 ART-1000 cartridge with the same alignment on Technics tonearm.

Do you think Technics tonearm designers can’t hear what you can hear ?

I will address this question to all others, it’s a modern high-end turntable

P.S. Technics phono cable is a low capacitance cable as much as the every good phono cable on the market. There is absolutely nothing to change with this turntable for a person who just started the journey into analog. The rest is audiophilia.

I've been using Technics tonearms and Technics turntables for professional needs for over 22 years using Technics alignment. There is nothing to worry about with GR, i believe. 
Agree on alignment methods, nothing to add there. 

Regarding alignment though, in some cases, other alignments affect each other, just something to be aware of. The center of the record is more sensitive due to the smaller radius. But really, one thing to be aware of, is the "fancier" or more intense the stylus shape, the more important it is to have an arm that is adjustable. 

But that's not what I was going to post about. I noticed on a couple other threads you have a static issue. Could it be something to do with that? It is a direct drive turntable, and the motor is right there in the middle. 

I used to use a "Zerostat" gun for the general area, and a Cardas sweep record for the cart/system. Had lots of stuff but those worked the best. Static build up DOES have an effect on treble depending on the system. 
@basement  I have adviced $60 Zerostat to Brent long time ago when he asked me. Cardas sweep record is a great tool, i use it to ultrasonically clean vintage cartridges (or to burn in).    
Milty was a great suggestion and use it regularly. Anti static brushes, ointments, salves, I've got em all. All records clean with Record Doctor, stored in anti sleeves, the whole works. Still get static once played and pulled from TT. I Milty and play the other side or store it. 
@chakster  I've been wondering if there's a "set up" album for about a week now. I've been curious regarding a few albums with the voice placement and thought how nice it would be if there was a record you could test your system to too. Would this album have this voice placement test?
  There are probably hundreds of LPs that were created for testing and setting up audio systems. Many of them were made and marketed by Shure, the cartridge company.  Audio Teknika also made several.  I wouldn’t really know where to begin in order to tell you what you should seek. Stereophile made a series of at least five CDs that provide for testing of vocal reproduction, but that’s on CD. One of the best test LPs made in recent decades is the Cardas test LP, but that one doesn’t have human voice.
Set-up will affect the sound. Period. I suggest that you buy the right equipment right away, and no more guessing. But note that the best installation won't do much for a damaged or malfunctioning tonearm.

Alignment will affect the sound, and is the most obvious candidate for your problem, in my opinion. Lew posted a very good response. A good protractor is worth it's weight in cursing.

So will VTA: higher at the pivot is brighter. There is a distinct point at which the sound changes from bright to mellow.

So will azimuth (looking at the cartridge from the front, the angle at which the stylus meets the record). Exactly vertical is what you want.

So will the exact angle at which the cartridge is installed, especially with more exotic stylus shapes. Good callipers are handy here to install the cartridge exactly parallel to the headshell.

So will torque on the mounting screws. I did not even bother to test such a crazy hypothesis until I saw a posting by a Linn engineer. Then I bought a torque screwdriver, and heard the difference, as did my wife, as did my friends.

Any or all of these might affect the exact problem which you identify. There are too many variables to be sure - the easiest (!!! yeah, but it's true !!) thing, is to do the most accurate installation you can, and try it out on many records. Then make fine adjustments accordingly.

Antiskating and VTF should not affect the situation you describe, unless your tonearm is malfunctioning.

Hey, it's a hobby !
 The Technics alignment gauge does not make it as easy to be accurate with alignment as a precision protractor does.  Especially sighting the cantilever to be parallel with the gauge because the gauge does not have any runway lines.  I wish it did.  
In addition the alignment "flavor" that Technics gives us it the Stevenson alignment which tends to favor the middle to inner grooves- at the expense of the outer grooves. 
I personally prefer the Lofgren alignment which sounds much better in the outer grooves and overall IMHO.  The mint best tractor has a longer overhang consistent with a lofgren alignment.  I love the sound of my 'GR with the mint tractor alignment.  
@avanti1960 maybe it’s just me with a very long experience with those Technics, but when i quickly set-up cart with Technics overhang i am spot on, it’s easy to check with protractor. But if the cantilever of the cartridge is not centered then it’s another story. Technics is not exactly Stevenson, it’s close, but different. Anyway i have tried all 3 alignments on my Dr. Feickert protractor. 

I’m just tried to say that Technics demo was made with ART-1000 and surely with their own alignment. Everybody were impressed, so i do not see any problem to use this first as supposed to be (and to experiement later with different methods).

I’ve been wondering if there’s a "set up" album for about a week now. I’ve been curious regarding a few albums with the voice placement and thought how nice it would be if there was a record you could test your system to too. Would this album have this voice placement test?

I test with real music, some properly recorded LPs which i know very well, most of them are originals from the 70’s, some Japanese pressings, there are many.

To check channel balance, polarity, or to set up anti-stating i use Hi-Fi Test LP and Cardas Sweep LP. The Hi-Hi Test LP comes with free protractor, also there are tracks to check resonance frequency of your cartridge/arm combo. I do not have any test records anymore.
What setting do you use on your torque screwdriver?

When I contacted Yip about a Mint Protractor for my SL-1200G, he said he only supplies the Stevenson alignment, no Lofgren. How were you able to get a Mint Protractor with Lofgren?

Oh no, Eric, you don't know what you are asking!! We trashed (sic, trashed) that out in a recent thread, when fourwnds initiated a discussion entitled, "Recent retip(canti also) Dude where did my soundstage width go".

Suffice to say, it's complicated, but worth doing.
No mention is made of program. Ears clamp with very loud levels.
Inner radii are less dynamic due to lower velocity. Is there a resonance at the outer edge that disappears toward the spindle?
Speaker and amplifiers change with temperature. How old is the MC402? Was it left on all the time and in need of a recap? Does it need a bias adjust? See http://ielogical.com/Audio/WinterBlues.php

Cartridge alignment would be the last place I'd look given the O/P's question.
Great input everyone. I really appreciate it. 

Bonehead update!!!

Had a few beers last night and played a minty original CBS Jap pressing of the Wall that I just got. Played side 2 and it sounded wonderful. Great pressing, great quality.......

Then the bonehead move comes in. My lazy chair has an annoying light panel that controls the chair movement so I put a towel or a shirt or whatever over it. I must have had the shirt in my hand as I went to lift the arm. Shirt caught something and the needle jumped up and down, back forth like it was possessed. Scratched the piss out of that beautiful album and messed up the stylus on the MoFi. 

You know, things happen in life, sober or not sober. What a shame. I'll install a new stylus and give the album to a friend. But, I'm going to take a crack at installing my Vasari Gold Note  cartridge in the meantime. I'll watch some Youtube, but I think I can do this. I've got my tweezers and readers, tomorrow is the big day. 

Happy Fathers Day to all you Dads!
Don't feel bad bout the cart, I'm a two time cart wrecker dude myself!  It's kinda like wiping out on a bicycle...all part of the process. HFD if it applies. 
I don`t know if it`s any consolation, but I did exactly the same thing. My shirt sleeve caught the back of the counterweight, and sent a Koetsu Urushi spinning across the platter. 

Believe me, a Koetsu rebuild is expensive!
i have read that technics tables use a stephensen alignment and assumed that the mint best tractor was lofgren because of the increased overhang compared to the technics gauge.  whatever flavor either truly is, the mint alignment sounds better and the protractor makes it easier to be accurate.  
I just received the Mint Protractor and haven’t yet used it to align my Hana SL. Yip was pretty adamant in his email response to me that his protractor used Stevenson and that was the only option. I didn’t question him and insist on Lofgren, so what I got is Technics version of Stevenson. From what I have read, for most TT setups, Lofgren is preferred, not so for the Technics. I like the fact that the Mint Protractor has the mirror.
ericsch, If you've got both the Mint protractor and the alignment gauge supplied by Technics, perhaps you can determine whether they both result in identical mm of stylus overhang.  That might settle the issue regarding what alignment algorithm is being used and preferred by Technics.  Or at least it would tell us whether Technics favors Stevenson, assuming that Yip does.
again, i just guessed that the mint protractor was lofgren because it has slightly more overhang than the technics gauge~ 2mm.  
if Yip's design is true stevenson, then technics is something different.  
Regardless the mint sounds better and perfect actually to my ears.  

Mounted my second cart all by myself! It's the Vasari Gold Note. I'm sure it needs time to burn in. I never, ever, ever do things like this by myself and by Jorge I did it! I'm feelin proud.
@lewm  Yes, I will do that.

@avanti1960  Thanks for clarifying.

@knollbrent  The key is taking your time, no rushing, good lighting and a microscope. 

On the Technics, if the new GR is using the same arm geometry as the old 1200, traditional Lofgren alignment would result in a much greater overhang, approximately 3.3 mm more, and Baerwald would result in about 2.8 mm more. In both cases the cartridge would have to be angled noticeably toward the spindle to align properly.

Stevenson alignment on the Technics with a 215 mm mounting distance would result in less than 1 mm more overhang as compared to the Technics alignment and the cartridge should sit almost square in the headshell. 
Dear @avanti1960 @ericsch @knollbrent : As other japanese tonearm manufacturers almost always exist some kind of trouble to know in precise way wich kind of alignment used because normally are out of standards.

The 1200 is a clear example where if we decide to make calculations below IEC standards the alignment numbers does not even what Technics states. Technics does not gave the precise/accurate/measured P"S distance that for the alignment calculations is a fixed parameter that we can’t change. I’m not an owner of a 1200 so I can’t measure it.

Now, if we change the calculations to the JIS standard then we have those 15mm ( 14.99 ) on overhang and 22.1° as offset angle. This is the nearest numbers using the diferent standard parameters. Obviously that any one can change those standard numbers to make his own calculations.

Now, Stevenson with JIS standard ( or IEC/DIN. ) has lower tracking distortions ONLY in the last 5mm inner grooves and higher tracking distortions in the other 90mm of recorded grooves ! !

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

What Raul says about Stevenson having greater tracking distortion than Lofgren or Baerwald across the vast majority of the record is absolutely true.

However, the statement that Stevenson has lower inner groove distortion is a huge generalization in light of the fact that the location of the "inner grooves" varies vastly from record to record.

The traditional inner null points (zero distortion) of Stevenson, Baerwald and Lofgren are approximately 60 mm, 66 mm and 70 mm respectively. So Stevenson will in fact have grossly higher inner groove distortion on a record which has inner grooves ending at 65 mm than Baerwald and approximately the same as Lofgren.

On the other hand, if you're playing a lot of audiophile records which have the inner grooves ending around the 70 mm mark (70 mm from the centre of the spindle, Lofgren is going to give you considerably better inner groove distortion numbers than either Stevenson or Baerwald.

It is really only in the 58-60 mm area that Stevenson excels at reduction of IGD as compared to Baerwald and Lofgren and many vinyl users (classical music lovers with lots of long sides possibly excluded) have very few records in their collection with playable inner grooves in that area.

If you took 60-70 mm as an average inner groove area in your collection, which is highly possible and very likely, Baerwald would in fact provide an average of 25% less IGD in that area than Stevenson. Lofgren would have the worst performance in that area, the bulk of it being in the 60-63 mm area though, while outperforming Stevenson & Baerwald on average across the whole record.

The elephant in the room for Stevenson is where the actual inner grooves are on each individual record, and it is a pretty big elephant.

The Technics alignment makes even less sense than Stevenson, placing the inner null around 59 mm.
Dear @hdm :  You are rigth. The incredible issue is that several audiophiles work with Stevenson A alignment when makes no sense to use it for any one.

Btw and only to add that Baerwald is who took the credit for the alignment that has his name when in reality was Löfgren who has two alignment solutions: Löfgren A and B where A solution is the one that time latter than Löfgren achieved to that same A solution. 
So the true " property "/autor  was Löfgren with those A and B solutions.


It is really only in the 58-60 mm area that Stevenson excels at reduction of IGD as compared to Baerwald and Lofgren and many vinyl users (classical music lovers with lots of long sides possibly excluded) have very few records in their collection with playable inner grooves in that area.

I am not an advocate of Stevenson, but i doubt in your knowlende about record formats, i have randomly measured inner grooves on various vintage 45s (7’inch records) and the music goes up to 50mm (from the spinde) on many of them.

Japanese companies supplied radiostations with their equipment (tonearms, turntables, cartridges) back in the 60s, 70s. Denon, Saec, Technics etc ... The radio format is NOT an LP, but the singles, supplied as a promo prior to the pressing of LP, to the radio discjockeys to promote the songs. One track per side only.

This format of music media is highly collectible and millions of people have those records (45 rpm singles) as in most cases it is the ONLY way to buy a song which was never ever issued on LP. I am talking about original 45 rpm 7 inch singles from the 50s, 60s, 70s ... The groove starts at about 82mm and the song goes up to 50mm (from spinde to the inner most groove). Go figure.

This is not like on your typical LP or on that audiophile pressing that are made for small majority of people. The normal 45s were made for the masses, there are more 45s that LPs in this world for sure.

P.S. Stevenson alignment was made officially for classical music where the most complex passages tends to be in the end of the record at the inner most groove.

People who can't think of anything but a distortion should buy Linear Tracking tonearms ONLY. 


1) I am aware of Stevenson's link with classical music and in fact alluded to it in my post

2) "I doubt in your knowledge of record formats." Does that comment make you feel better-more superior?

3) I could be wrong but I doubt there is anything but a very small minority of posters here that spend a great deal of time playing 7" 45's relative to 12" records in their collection. If there are, accept my apologies;  my comments were not directed toward them.

4) For those playing large numbers of highly collectible 7" 45's with playable grooves between 50-82 mm and with a serious commitment to them and wanting to hear them at their best, Stevenson, while it may be preferable to Baerwald and Lofgren, would actually make little sense in that scenario.

What would make sense for those collectors would be to create a custom alignment with nulls somewhere in the 51-52 mm and 75-77 mm area. 

5) For those of us with pivoted arms it makes perfect sense to work at minimizing distortions when it is a relatively simple and basic procedure based on the geometry and, for most, a lot less complicated than moving to a linear tracking arm. 

Sorry to hear of your pain with the death of a cartridge. For what it's worth, I came very close to destroying a higher end Koetsu shortly after I bought it.

But you got right back on the horse! Congratulations on installing the new one !! Well done - I remember how much of a stretch it was, that first time.


So in your opinion Stevenson works well for classical music ?

Because the main quastion is why Stevenson made his alignment long time after Baerwald / Lofgren and why nearly all Japanese manufacturers of high-end tonearm using Stevenson till today. Do you have any explanation of this ?

It’s weird that audiophiles ignoring millions of records pressed on 45s singles on independent labels in the 50s - 70s (not available on any LPs). In fact the choise of music on expensive audiophile pressing LPs is awful (with some exceptions), which makes me think that audiophiles are about quality, not about music itself. As i said inner groove on 45s is different, that’s all i was trying to say.

At the same time the "normal" people just use what they got from the manufacturer like Technics.

I personally use different alignments, mostly Baerwald and Stevenson on different tonearms. I can’t hear distortion with Stevenson! Probably Technics engineers can’t here distortion too, also many other Japanese tonearm manufacturers can’t hear distortion with Stevenson alignment.

You statement is theoretical, but practically it is not necessary for the OP to change alignemnt on Technics turntables with Technics tonearm.

I would be happy to hear some files recorded with Steventon vs Baerwald / Lofgren to prove the audible distortion. I think it will be impossible!

I would like to point you on ViV Lab tonearm and its alignment method which has nothing to do with Stevenson, Baerwald, Lofgren etc. But no one complained about the distortion. Why?
IMO it's easy to obsess about tiny differences from the various alignment setups....

I use an SL1200G & have a Roksan Black & a Goldring 1024, both using the 1024 Gyger S stylus & mounted on identical headshells - the Roksan using Baerwald/Dr Feikert & the Goldring using the Technics gauge. They sound almost identical.

Any differences between alignment methods are very small (to all intents undetectable) & when done accurately, all sound excellent - although Feickert is more fiddly/precise. I agree with previous posts suggesting that the Technics engineers have chosen their alignment and users should trust it. 

By the way - back in 2012 I ordered a Mint protractor for a Rega. I asked Yip to use Baerwald... & he did.

A couple of points and then I'll bow out of this discussion:

1) As I said above, Stevenson will be better and have lower distortion numbers than Baerwald (or Lofgren A) or Lofgren (B) in the 58-62 mm groove area. Hence, it will work well on those records, classical or otherwise on the last 60-90 seconds of those records. Across the rest of the record Baerwald and Lofgren have significantly better distortion numbers. There is nothing theoretical about this-it is simply a fact.

2) As such, the alignment that one chooses (if one makes or wants to make that choice) will be based on priorities: ie; whether they want to minimize distortion for 60-90 seconds on (certain) records, or whether they want to minimize distortion on the other 15-20 minutes of the record.

3) If you can't hear the distortions, no problem. Perhaps I could not hear them either. We're back in an entirely subjective domain then. Objectively, though, I would prefer to minimize distortion across 95% of the record as opposed to 5% of it from the star when it is a relatively simple procedure.

But if those distortions in the final 5% are more grossly objectionable than those in the 95% to the listener then their priorities may be different than mine. I don't have a ton of records with information around the 60 mm mark and don't play 7" 45's (if I did I'd explore other alignment options and a dedicated arm/table for them if I was serious) so it's a bit of a moot point for me.

4) Only the OP would be able to tell us if it would be worthwhile to change the alignment on his Technics and he'd have to do it to find out. If he's happy with the way it sounds now, there's no need to experiment. FWIW, other Technics users in the past have reported better performance with Baerwald, but I'm sure there are some who also can't hear any difference.

5) Japanese manufacturers do not "all use Stevenson". They typically almost all specify a 15 mm over hang and nulls around (but not exactly at) 60 and 114 mm. But 90 per cent of those nulls, while they are closer to Stevenson than Lofgren or Baerwald nulls, are not Stevenson nulls and they are often different from one Japanese manufacturer to another. The Technics "alignment" is but one example. The Japanese have simply been doing it that way for a long time, well before Stevenson wrote his paper(s) in 1966-67, and have simply continued doing it since.

6) I'm not familiar with the ViV Lab arm and really know nothing about it. If its geometry, however, contributes to significantly higher distortion numbers than Stevenson, let alone Baerwald or Lofgren, I'd be somewhat skeptical while trying to keep an open mind I suppose. Maybe some people just like the sound of certain distortion(s)? It's a subjective hobby and that can't entirely be ruled out.